Thursday, June 09, 2005


This past weekend, She Who Must Be Obeyed was attacked by a Major Case o’ Nostalgia, possibly driven by our impending twenty-eighth anniversary. For this, there was only one cure: to resurrect a favorite recipe of our Newlywed Days.

Back when we had first Tied the Knot, a favorite dish was King Ranch Chicken. SWMBO would prepare a huge casserole-load of this stuff, enough to feed four to six normal adults, and the two of us would snarf the entire thing down in one sitting. Sure, we were slobs, but this stuff was irresistible! Even today, I wonder how much of my Permanent Burden of Ass-Fat consists of the distant residuum of platters of King Ranch Chicken from days gone by.

It had been years since we had last had KRC, and it was every bit as tasty as we remembered it. It took a supernal effort of will not to revert to our old Casserole-Devouring Frenzy, but somehow we managed it in order to avoid shaming ourselves in front of our friends.

And now, for your delectation, I present the recipe for King Ranch Chicken, that you, too, may enjoy its glories. [A caveat: This is the only recipe you will ever see from the Files o’ Elisson that contains the dreaded Cream of Mushroom Soup. All of you Food Snobs, get over yourselves.]

King Ranch Chicken

1 good-size chicken (hen or fryer)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chiles (use ½ can if you want the dish a little milder, ya baby)
1 tsp chile powder
1½ tsp cumin seed or powder
1½ tsp oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup chicken broth
1 package soft corn tortillas, cut in quarters
Shredded cheese (Monterey Jack, cheddar, queso blanco)

Put the chicken in a pot and add cold water to cover. Turn up the heat and once it starts to simmer, adjust the heat. Simmer the chicken until tender, remove the chicken from the pot (without burning the crap out of your hands – use tongs or utensils!) let cool, and remove the meat from the bones. Reserve the broth.

In a skillet, heat up the oil and add the onion and green pepper. Cook at medium heat until the onions are soft and transparent. Add the Ro-Tel tomatoes, the chile powder, the cumin, and the oregano. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Mix together the cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soups and one cup of the reserved chicken broth. Add this mixture to the sauce in the skillet and mix well.

Cover the bottom of a large baking dish with pieces of chicken, then cover with a layer of tortilla pieces, then cover with half of the sauce mixture. On top of this, place another layer of chicken, another layer of tortilla pieces, and the remaining sauce. Cover with a layer of shredded cheese. Cover pan with foil and bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes.

This recipe serves 4-6, but you will be tempted to eat the whole pan at once – it’s that good.

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